Middlesbrough 1-1 Millwall: Match recap
Middlesbrough were held to a 1-1 draw against Millwall as Matt Crooks' goal was is cancelled out by a controversial Lions' equaliser.
In his first game as Boro manager Chris Wilder set up in 3-5-2 which dropped into a 5-3-2 when out of possession in order to plug gaps and stop Millwall creating clear-cut chances.
The game started quickly with Duncan Watmore being played in behind after just 20 seconds of play, unfortunately for Boro, Bialkowski was able to save the effort with relative ease.
A few minutes later Millwall were sliced open again by a through ball into Andraz Sporar, who was a constant threat in the channels, but a brilliant last-ditch tackle denied the Slovenian.
The chances kept coming for Boro until eventually Watmore went on a delightful run and sat a defender down.
His cross then took a deflection which carried it to Matt Crooks for a simple headed finish - something that couldn't be said for the task of replacing the corner after kicking it into the crowd in wild celebration!
The first real scare for Boro came on 25 minutes when the usually reliable and sturdy Sol Bamba played a loose back pass which sold Daniels short. Thankfully Isaiah Jones was on hand and used his tremendous turn of pace to intercept the cut back and clear the danger.
It was then that a moment of controversy struck.
Watmore was seemingly clipped when running through on goal and the linesman appears to flag for a foul, however the referee seemingly ignored his colleague and let play go on.
There was then a second incident as Paddy McNair took a blatant elbow to the face and eventually the ball was bundled past Luke Daniels.
Despite some serious complaints from both fans and players there was no reprieve for the home side though and the goal stood with the game level at 1-1.
The chances still came for Boro with Marcus Tavernier and Watmore providing two particular moments of excitement for the Boro fans.
At half-time Sporar was replaced by youngster Josh Coburn due to what seemed to be a slight ankle issue.
In the second half the home side wilted a little and much of the dynamism and threat from the first half seemed to fade away, likely due to the loss of Andraz Sporar at the break.
While Wilder’s side spent much of the second 45 camped in the Millwall half, clear-cut chances proved hard to come by.
However, when a big chance finally did arrive it was spurned by goalscorer Crooks in the 89th minute who blazed his effort well over the crossbar from inside the penalty area.
The match may have ended 1-1 but there were definitely some positives to take with Tavernier looking like a different player compared to recent performances and Marc Bola’s return offering constant width and threat down the left hand side.
On to Preston now, where Wilder will be looking to secure a first win as Boro manager.
Be sure to tune in to the latest Boro Breakdown podcast for all your matchday chatter in a pod, which you can find here.